Straight Talk on Writing: 20 Conversations with Authors about the Craft

By Scott Francis | Go to book overview

Dinty W. Moore

“Don’t settle for good
enough. Keep working to be
a better writer, a better
reader, and to offer a
fresher perspective.”

Dinty W. Moore is the author of Between Panic & Desire, The Accidental Buddhist, Toothpick Men, and The Emperor’s Virtual Clothes. He has published essays and stories in The Southern Review·, The Georgia Review, Harpers, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, The Philadelphia Inquirer Magazine, Gettysburg Review, Utne Reader, and Crazyhorse, among others. Moore is a professor of nonfiction writing at Ohio University, and has won many awards for his writing, including a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Fiction.

I had the pleasure of working as Moore’s editor for his book Crafting the Personal Essay: A Guide for Writing and Publishing Creative Nonfiction. Moore’s writing is at once funny and informative, like advice from a mentor who also happens to be a good friend. Below, in one of the best author interviews I’ve ever conducted, Moore offers his insights into the craft, the balance between dreaming big and working hard, and his thoughts on personal essays as a means of selfdiscovery.

—SF


What message do you find
yourself repeating over and
over to writers?

There is no shortcut. Good writing takes work, stubborn revision, and more than anything, the willingness to dig deeper and deeper into a subject, even if what you find makes you uncomfortable.


How do you view the role of
the personal essay in
today’s literary
environment?

I am tempted to say that the personal essay is more important than ever—many blogs are made up of daily personal essays, for instance—but the truth is, the personal essay has been an important part of the literary scene for centuries, and remains important, and will remain important. It is the artist’s job to delve down into the subject in search of insight and enlightenment, and like the poem, like the short story, the personal essay invites just such exploration.


What’s the best writing
advice you’ve ever gotten?

Don’t settle for good enough. Keep working to be a better writer, a better reader, and to offer a fresher perspective.


What’s the worst kind of
mistake that new writers,
freelancers, or book authors
can make?

Too often, in my opinion, beginning writers focus on what point they want to make, what the message will be in their writing,

-43-

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Straight Talk on Writing: 20 Conversations with Authors about the Craft
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Acknowledgments i
  • Table of Contents ii
  • Introduction 1
  • Laurie Alberts 2
  • Barbara Baig 6
  • William Cane 9
  • Orson Scott Card 13
  • Sage Cohen 21
  • Sarah Dornet 25
  • Jeff Gerke 29
  • April Hamilton 32
  • Becky Levine 37
  • Donald Maass 41
  • Dinty W. Moore 43
  • Jessica Page Morrell 46
  • Steven Harper Piziks 49
  • Peter Seigin 53
  • George Singleton 57
  • James Alexander Thom 60
  • Fred White 62
  • Karen S. Wiesner 64
  • You’Ve Read the Interviews… Now Read the Books! 68
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